Publicious Links: The Real Balloon Boy Edition

He’s still up there. Somewhere. Alone. The poor balloon boy, captive of the merciless sky. Orphan of the atmosphere. My heart goes out to him. No, not that hoaxing chump whose dad sent up a Jiffy Pop bag and called 911. I’m talking about the real balloon boy. Pascal. Le garçon Parisien who has been riding the whims of the winds since 1956.

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At least he was wearing a warm sweater. In retribution for failing to protect one of their kind from the neighborhood bullies, pauvre Pascal was kidnapped by a marauding band of garish helium hooligans, never to be seen again.

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He would be in his 60s by now. Be brave, Pascal.

Now on to this week’s links:

Web 2.0 Journal has a look at the Nook (hey, that rhymes) vs. the Kindle.

2010 is going to be the Year of the E-book. Don’t take my word for it, PCWorld has a roundup of the new combatants in the War on Paper. Old Publicious pal Plastic Logic will ring in the new year in January with the QUE.

XML Journal has more on the Nook, and how Adobe worked with Barnes and Noble to get PDF and EPUB on the gadget.

Need to design and produce accessible PDF? Then you need to read Adobe’s resources on the subject. How to create accessible PDF from Word, InDesign, etc.

LiveBrush is yet another free and interesting drawing app.

‘Tis the season to be gory, and Naldzgraphics has gathered 45 horrifying Photoshop tuts. How to zombify, vampirize, etc.

Flash without ActionScript is like ice cream without hot fudge, whipped cream, and a cherry on top. That comes zooming onto your table from stage right. Enter ActionScript.org to help you learn the magic words.

Flash on the iPhone? Sorta, kinda. Newsfactor has an article on Apple v. Adobe.

VectorTuts has a tut on creating a vector texture with a wonderfully old school twist.

Creately is an online diagramming app that’s either free (basic version) or pay what you want (souped up).

InsideRIA is a great site from O’Reilly for keeping tabs on developments in the rich internet app realm.

Lastly, thanks to Pariah Burke and his column Free For All on CreativePro.com (required reading for destitute designers everywhere), for the heads up on FontCapture, a free online tool for making a font out of your handwriting. I don’t know why I think this is cool. I don’t try to write in Helvetica, so why would I want to type in Rankin? But I really do.

Till next time, think of Pascal, and keep watching the skies.

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Publicious Links: The Whine Flu Edition

I don’t have a cure for the H1N1 virus, but good links are good medicine for whatever ails ya. Unless you’re ailed by attention deficit disorder. In which case, they’re poison. Anyhoo…

Thus far, I’ve been able to avoid the Swine flu, but I think I’m coming down with a case of the Whine flu. Symptoms: dissatisfaction with my software and hardware. Not fast enough. Not up-to-date enough. Buggy. Case in point: Adobe’s back with another warning about the security of Javascript in Acrobat. Some folks are so fed up, they’re dumping Reader for alternative PDF software. Sheesh. Adobe invented PDF. “How embarassking,” as Popeye would say. The new patch is promised by May 12th. Till then, I guess, just rub your screen with Purell, and disable Javascript in Acrobat.

Not to kick a giant corporation while they’re down, but there is more bad news in Adobeland. Not only did they have shutdown weeks where all employees were forced to stay home, layoffs, wage freezes, and now financial analysts downgraded Adobe stock from “buy” to “hold,” even though it’s stumbling between $15–$25 lately. The thinking is that Adobe’s stock will stay low till Creative Suite 5 appears. Let’s hope CS5 is a home run. But of course, if you read Publicious, you already know what’s in store for CS5 😉 If you don’t want to take my word for it, check out the  interview with CEO Shantanu Narayen. I’m sure he mentions Publicious in there somewhere…

Actually, he’s more focused on Flash, making deals with Netflix, Comcast, and Disney to deliver content in Flash to your TV. The question is, do you want Flash on your TVs? Personally, I don’t. TV’s craptacular enough as it is, without having to install the latest plug-in version and reboot the set before you can watch MythBusters. Or commercial pop-up ads. Or the prospect of having the SuperBowl “Unexpectedly Quit” while a team is driving for a touchdown. When it happens (and you know it will), it’ll be a 21st Century Heidi moment.

Want to know who else is reading Publicious? Check out Quantcast.com for a look at yourselves. It’s fun to see where everyone is coming from. I’d like to give a shout out to my 10 unique cookies in Bulgaria. Yo! S’up, Razgrad?

Trying to enhance your software developer skillz? By all meanz, check out Refcardz.com for free PDF “cheat sheetz” chock full o’ information and well-dezigned.

Also worth checking out are Adobe’s new “marketplaces.” Claiming to be “the ultimate resource” and “the most comprehensive collection products, services, and communities available.” Sounds like Exchange on steroids. So far there are two marketplaces, Photoshop and AIR. If they succeed, there will no doubt be more.

I’ll give you three guesses who just bought Stanza, the eBook reader app for the iPhone, and the first two don’t count. If you said Amazon, you win (or do you?) Hmmm.

By the way, Amazon just announced a large format Kindle, aimed at the textbook market. My heart’s still with the underdog, PlasticLogic guys. But either way, if my son’s backpack can get under 20 lbs, I’m good.

Looking for a perfect Mother’s Day gift? Sure, Facebook was ruined when your mom joined, but at least you have Twitter, right? Well, before mom starts following Ashton Kutcher and tweeting links to your prom photos, you might be proactive and give her the new Twitter book from O’Reilly. Who knows, maybe she’ll become a niche titan and buy you a shiny new MacBook Pro.

Finally, I leave you with the disturbing images of the real origin of swine flu: Johnny Cash singing with Miss Piggy.

Be good, and remember, cough into your elbow to keep your PDFs virus-free.

Is This What a Kindle Killer Looks Like?

One of the coolest things I saw and held at the O’Reilly Tools of Change conference was the Plastic Logic Reader.

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As I played with it, two words came to mind: Kindle Killer. Yes, I know you won’t be able to buy a Plastic Logic reader until 2010. Yes, I know Amazon is bigger than the Milky Way, Coca-Cola, and Andre the Giant put together. I also know that what I held was like an iPod and the Kindle, even the much-improved Kindle 2, is like a Zune. During the session breaks attendees were swarmed around the Plastic Logic display asking questions and pawing at the thing. I had to trample to two authors and a developer to get my hands on one.

Plastic Logic is positioning the product as more professional and business-oriented than the Kindle, but from what I’ve seen it’s just a more compelling device, period. In my view, the Plastic Logic reader has three killer advantages over the Kindle: size, touchscreen, and file format support. Plus, I’m betting there’s an ace in the hole.

The touchscreen technology supports gestures for navigation, annotation, and note taking. You can draw on the screen, and attach notes. The touchscreen also allows for a virtual keyboard. I’ve never liked the Kindle’s look because of the keyboard. Maybe I’ve been brainwashed from years of iPod UI, but if it’s a reading device, the vast majority of the surface area should be devoted to reading.

This also relates to the size issue. The 8.5 x 11 display is much more like what I’d want to have for reading a magazine, news, or a complex work document. I know that makes it less portable, but the Kindle is 8 inches tall, so I’m not sticking that in my pocket either. Plastic Logic has a 150 ppi resolution screen (Kindle 2 is 167 ppi) which can be rotated to display content in either portrait or landscape format. Color capability is planned as well. Here are some YouTube videos on the product.

In terms of file format support, Plastic Logic wins too. For reading content, the Kindle 2 supports Kindle (.AZW, .AZW1), Text (.TXT), and Unprotected Mobipocket (.MOBI, .PRC). You can use .PDF, .DOC, and .HTML files only after they have they have been converted to Kindle-readable formats. To convert files you have to either pay Amazon a small fee (ca-ching!), or you have to attach your files to an e-mail that you send to Amazon (privacy? we don’t need no stinkin’ privacy), and they send you a link to the converted file. Come on. I just want things to work. Period. Plastic Logic supports Office file formats, HTML, EPUB, PDF, and more, out of the box.The claim is that it can display any file you can print.

That ace in the hole? Plastic Logic’s eReader already has a flexible screen. It’s just attached to a hard backing. So it’s not too hard to picture a foldable reader evolving from this product. Then you have one killer eReader. Any file format you want, big, color, foldable display in your pocket. Of course, Amazon has walked the walk. The Kindle 2 is out and you can own one. Plastic Logic is still somewhere between drawing board and reality. No word or street date or pricing, but they’re off to a very promising start.

PS: Memo to Amazon documentation department, regarding the 100-page Kindle 2 User Guide. Thanks for making it readily-available. But if you’re not going to put page numbers in the table of contents, for God’s sake give me hyperlinks to the pages. Don’t make me search or scroll up and down to find where a section might be. Never stop thinking UI, people. Thanks.